Tuesday 9 4, 2012
Late summer allergy season is here! We generally have a spike of allergic patients around mid-August due to ragweed and other allergens that are now present.
Dogs with allergies have a heightened response to pollens that settle on their skin.The allergens absorb through the skin and start a cascade of events that results in itch. Bathing allergic dogs is recommended to remove these pollens from the skin and feet.
Allergic dogs scratch at their body, chew at their feet, rub their face and shake their head and ears. Many of them have redness of their skin, ear discharge signalling an infection and skin rashes. In short, they are not comfortable.
Short-term treatment involves oral anti-histamines, whole body bathing with anti-itch shampoos and steroids. Dogs with year-round allergies may require allergy testing and desensitizatiion injections or an oral medication called Atopica. We will customize a treatment plan for your dog based on their specific issues.
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Digital Dental X-rays Arrive at EPHC
EPHC has had dental x-ray capability for many, many years. The ability to see below the gum line in our patients is critical to detecting painful conditions such as fractured and abcessed teeth and resorptive conditions.
We are now pleased to report that we are able to get these images digitally with the latest sensor technology. Digital x-rays are much faster to obtain and will allow for a decrease in the total anesthesia time for our patients and less cost for our clients. Best of all, the images are more diagnostic in many cases, allowing us to make faster and better treatment decisions.
The number of previously unknown dental problems discovered with intra-oral x-rays during a dental cleaning procedure is truly astounding. Many pets suffer in silence with hidden dental abnormalities. By being more proactive with x-ray technology, we can help your pet have a better quality of life and keep their mouths pain-free.
We recommend full-mouth x-rays at a minimum during an initial prophylaxis appointment or if they have not been previously obtained and follow-up radiographs as determined by current need and past problems.
Since over 85% of dogs and cats over 3 years of age have detectable periodontal disease, there is a good chance your dog or cat may have dental disease requiring treatment. Please call for more information on how we can help keep your pet's oral health at its best.
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Tooth Resorption: Common, Painful and Silent
A high percentage of cats suffer from painful resorptive lesions-some studies suggest over 50% of cats develop these "holes" in the teeth. We are now seeing more and more dogs developing a very similar problem. No one knows the cause of this condition and options for treatment are limited.
The body starts to "eat away" at the tooth enamel until the entire tooth is destroyed.The process takes months to years until its done and multiple teeth are often involved. Unfortunately, many pets do not show classic signs of pain even when they are painful, so owners are unaware that it is occurring.
On physical exam, cat teeth often have a raised area of gum tissue covering up the tooth surface. When this area is probed under anesthesia, the jaw will often "chatter" as the nerve is exposed. When the tooth is x-rayed, the roots sometimes have started to dissolve and become bone. Most dogs with this condition do not have obvious signs of trouble on physical examination as the problem is occurs below the gum line and x-rays are needed to define the problem.
Treatment for this condition in cats is extraction or intentional root retention (crown amputation) of the affected teeth. In dogs, full tooth extraction is usually required. Once these teeth have been removed, many people note that their pets are much more active, happier and in hindsight, do note a history of decreased chewing and playing.
The only way to find many of these problem teeth is through regularly scheduled dental cleanings under anesthesia and an oral evaluation with intra-oral x-rays.
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Herpes is Forever: Cat Upper Respiratory Infections
Almost all cats have been exposed to Feline Herpesvirus at some point in their lives, usually as kittens. It is found in most environments that have cats. Herpesvirus infects the upper respiratory tract and leads to conjunctivitis and eye discharge, sneezing, nasal discharge and occasionally decreased appetite.
Like most viruses, it needs to run its course and recovery from a bout of Herpes can take 2-4 weeks. Unlike other cold viruses, Herpesvirus goes dormant in some individuals and resides in a nerve in the head. When a given infected individual becomes stressed, the immune system may be depressed and the Herpesvirus may activate and cause recurrence of symptoms.
Herpesvirus is contagious to other cats, but not to people. It is a more serious problem in kittens who have not built up a good immune response. Prevention involves routine vaccinations to kittens and boosters every three years to adult cats. Even a vaccinated cat may show symptoms, but in general, the course of illness is much more mild for them.
Treatment involves maintaining appetite, controlling any discharge and treating secondary bacterial infections if they occur. Antibiotics will not get rid of the virus. L-Lysine amino acid can be given to cats during an outbreak, as it is thought to decrease the rate of virus replication. Chronically affected cats will likely be on L-Lysine indefinitely. In severe cases, Herpes can cause severe eye ulcers and special anti-viral drugs can be given.
Most cats make a complete recovery and will seem fine between episodes. It is important to keep stress to a minimum with affected cats to help reduce the recurrence of the disease.
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Knee Trouble: Cranial Cruciate Ligament Disease
Just as knee problems are very common in humans, dogs also suffer from a variety of knee (stifle) problems, most notably torn cruciate ligaments.
Affected dogs, most commonly middle-aged, will usually have a sudden onset of a non-weight bearing lameness on one of the rear legs. It is very painful and it is important to have the dog examined so appropriate pain medications can be started. Occasionally, the lameness will be a slow onset of intermittent non-use of the leg, a reluctance to rise or jump, and a change in the sitting position.
Any dog can be affected but certain large breed dogs are predisposed. Larger breed dogs, especially Labradors, Boxers, Rottweilers and Newfoundlands, seem predisposed. A genetic component is suspected in the development of this disease. In 50% of the cases, the other knee will also experience a ruptured ligament.
Since many dogs show some improvement with rest and pain meds, owners mistakenly feel the problem is resolving. Unfortunately, if the ligament is torn, the stifle is unstable and the abnormal movement of the knee will lead to arthritis. We see many older dogs who have untreated ligament ruptures and it definitely can impact their quality of life.
Diagnosis is made by examining the knee for abnormal movement and taking x-rays under sedation to look for excess joint fluid and evidence of arthritis.
Treatment always involves rest and NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Rimadyl. In addition, most dogs will require surgery to return the dog to normal function. The type of surgery performed is determined by the dog's age, size, lifestyle (working breed vs. couch potato), and owner finances. Most commonly, a procedure called a TTA (Tibial Tuberosity Advancement) is performed, where a titanium implant and a titanium plate are placed in the tibia. This surgery corrects the biomechanics of the knee to improve its stability. Recovery is generally 8-12 weeks with post-op rehabilitation, rest and pain medications. Most owners are very happy with their pet's post-surgical quality of life.
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